We brushed our hair is given as 'Nous nous sommes brossé les cheveux'. As 'nous' implies that more than one person is involved, why not 'brossés'?

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John

Kwiziq community member

3 April 2018

11 replies

We brushed our hair is given as 'Nous nous sommes brossé les cheveux'. As 'nous' implies that more than one person is involved, why not 'brossés'?

This relates to:
Agreeing past participle with subject's gender and number with (+ être) verbs in Le Passé Composé -

Alan

Kwiziq community member

3 April 2018

3/04/18

Hi John,
This question has been asked before, and it seems that it is not yet covered on this site, but it is explained here:
https://www.lawlessfrench.com/grammar/agreement-with-pronominal-verbs/

Chris

Kwiziq community member

4 April 2018

4/04/18

Hi John,

You are correct, it ought to be, "Nous nous sommes brossés les cheveux." Or, if it is a purely female group, "Nous nous sommes brossées les cheveux."

The site Alan quotes in his reply is a good one to check.

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

Alan

Kwiziq community member

4 April 2018

4/04/18

Hi Chris,

No, actually it should be "Nous nous sommes brossé les cheveux", because there is a direct object "les cheveux" which comes after the verb. This is explained on the link given - case 3 1/2

There's also some discussion of this in the other Q&As for this topic.

Alan

Kwiziq community member

4 April 2018

4/04/18

I meant case 3. Case 3 1/2 is the exception to case 3.

Chris

Kwiziq community member

4 April 2018

4/04/18

Actually, no. In the case of être, the participe always agrees.

-- Chris.

John

Kwiziq community member

4 April 2018

4/04/18

Thanks to both Alan and Chris. I remember this now from previous delving into French grammar. However, I would question whether this should be at A2 level. It's more appropriate at B2/C1

Alan

Kwiziq community member

4 April 2018

4/04/18

Chris, please read the other Q&A on this topic or the link I provided, it's more complicated than that.

Chris

Kwiziq community member

4 April 2018

4/04/18

Hi Alan, that's a VERY interesting point, indeed. According to the site, there should not be an agreement of the participle. However, I asked two native French speakers, one of them a French (as a second language) teacher, and both said that the participle needs to match the subject in the example we are discussing

I did some more internet research and found confirmation the rule you found on Laura's site. So it seems I did learn something new today! Thanks!!

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

Chris

Kwiziq community member

4 April 2018

4/04/18

Elle s'est cassé la jambe. -- She broke her legs (no agreement).
Quelle jambe s'est-elle cassée? -- Which leg did she break? (agreement)

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

2 May 2018

2/05/18

Hi all,

This is the kind of grammar which will trip up a lot of French natives and the rules are odd to say the least .

Please look at my answer to Gabrielle :

https://kwiziq.learnfrenchwithalexa.com/questions/view/hi-i-love-the-website-i-too-am-wondering-why-we-brushed-our-hair-is-nous-nous-sommes-brosse-les-chev

which might help out....

Krissa

Kwiziq community member

26 June 2018

26/06/18

Hi John

thanks for the link above relating to  the Laless site. It makes sense now. Krissa

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